Tuesday, March 23, 2010

210310 Labu, Underrated

Unikeb - Labu - LBJ - Kampong Jijan - Salak

Pumpkin was the order of the day.
We had cycled around this area numerous times & not know the significance of this place. Sad but most of us are rather blur about our own history. Go & ride by the N38 main road & you'll catch a glimpse of the huge pumpkin sculpture. The regular place where CIOCC's Clan cam-whores would stop for a snap.

me, Bokat, John John, Dr. Taufik, Rahman, Mr Won, Faris, Cikgu Hisyam,
Awie, Dr. Hassan & Bulat. my clone, Zharin, Wak Jali, & Baby.

Labu is a small town in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. The town is located between Seremban and Nilai. There is also a commuter train station that located here. How Labu Town got its name? I believe the kampong folks cultivated this plant in abundance when they first settled here.

During the Japanese occupation of Tanah Melayu, Labu became their headquarters as there were old railroads linking the peninsular from north to south. When they got tired of slashing & burning the crops to starve my forefathers, they resorted to chopping off the heads of locals. True? Due to KTMB double tracking works since 1995, most of these relics have disappeared.

Lyndon B. Johnson @ Labu bin Johnson

Former American President Lyndon B. Johnson once landed via a helicopter in Felda LBJ (1966), hence the name of the Felda settlement, Labu B. Johnson. The first and remains the only US President to ever visited Malaysia.
Excerpts of remarks upon Arriving at Subang Airport, Kuala Lumpur, October 30, 1966 “...I feel that I know you because Malaysia, like the United States, is a federation of States which were once colonies of Great Britain and because Malaysia is, like the United States, a nation of many diverse peoples, different religions, and different cultures..." Link here.

Butternut squash

Firstly, lemme explain to most of you out there who only know how to wallop this vege but wouldn't even know how the hell it looks like. Labu translated to English would be pumpkin or butternut squash. So Labu is a Pumpkin & vice versa. Scientifically a pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae which is a creeper plant. They are typically orange or yellow and have many creases running from the stem to the bottom. Have a thick shell on the outside, with seeds and pulp on the inside.
Variations within the species are common. Locally you can also get butternut squash. This variety is very popular because it's so easy to use. It's small enough to serve a normal family without leftovers, and the rind is thin enough to peel off with a vegetable peeler. As an added bonus, the flavor is sweet, moist (Mmmm..) and pleasantly nutty. Eat too much you'll go loco...

The word pumpkin originates from the word "Pepon" (πέπων), which is Greek for “Large melon". I love a pair of solid looking ones. The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and later American colonists changed that to the word we use today, "pumpkin".

If you're thinking about Labu & Labi, it has got nothing to do with the pumpkin or the terrapin. The latter apparently is an aphrodisiac, deliciously made into a bowl of soup. Labu & Labi refers to a comedy directed by the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee, my kampong neighbor. Both of us migrated from Pulau Pinang but he made it big in Singapura. During the 11th century, Singapura was attacked by schools of swordfish because someone said a boy "Cried Wolf".

Ironically "John Labu" was the name given to M. Zain, P. Ramlee's partner in this classic movie.
The 1963 production is a story about Haji Bakhil, a miser with two servants, Labu - the cook, and Labi - the driver. The two of them have secret admiration for Haji Bakhil's beautiful daughter, Manisah. After a hard day's work, Labu and Labi started talking about their girlfriend not knowing that they both admire the same women. During bedtime, they lamented to each other about their life being poor and wondered what would happen if they were rich and famous. Labu pretended that he was a doctor, Tarzan, cowboy and Labi a magistrate judge...

As simple as it is, a pumpkin has carved its name in the Guinness Book of World Records.The largest & heaviest record breaking pumpkin weighs a whooping 1,725-pound (782 kilograms)!!! If I got my face in-between those, I'll suffocate & die with pleasure.

Jack O Lanters for Halloween

Carving pumpkins (Jack O Lantern) preceded the Great Famine period of Irish immigration and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 1800s. In medieval time these candle lantern were initially carved from turnips (Sengkuang).
In Malaysia the sengkuang will be skinned alive, stripped bare from its skin, sliced 1/2 cm into a few slices. They will then be topped with a generous amount thick soy bean spread (Kuah rojak hitam). A sprinkle of "Belachan/Fermented shrimp cube", "Otak udang"/Shrimp paste) grounded/blended ground nuts & sugar will add flavor. Muaaaah! If you're born in the 70's you're one lucky bugger. For a sunny day, a shaved iced ball poured over with syrup is most welcome too.
It leaves a lingering taste in your tongue. Mummy...!!! I wanna turn back the clock...

For the Malay community, the pumpkin leaves are also a popular vegetable to be cooked with coconut milk = "Masak Lemak Daun Labu" minus the terrapin meat. It’s sweet but not sugary like. Add some sweet potatoes, mash & eat it with newly cooked rice. The leaves can be an "Ulam" which you dip into "Sambal Belachan"/Pounded chilies with roasted shrimp cube. Once you've tasted it, I bet you wouldn’t even notice your mother in-law passing by!

Pumpkin made into "Labu Sira" dessert.

"Labu Sira" is pumpkin/butternut squash cooked in palm sugar. It is traditionally served during special occasions/weddings.
Pumpkin in Palm Sugar Recipe

Ingredients (Enuff to serve 3-4 clones)

1 Medium size pumpkin
5 Tablespoon sugar
2-3 Pandan leaves (Pandanus amaryllifolius)
1/2 pcs palm sugar/brown sugar
2-3 Teaspoon salt
2-3 Teaspoon liquid limestone / Kapur makan not kapur tulis (Not blackboard chalk!)

How to go about doing it.
Peel the skin, cut into half lengthwise/ quarter & sub-quarter it into small chunks or chop them (Not too small please). Spread some liquid limestone & leave it for an hour (To ensure that the pumpkin would not go overly gooey/too soft). Wash them thoroughly later & boil them with sugar, Pandan leaves & salt. Splash with water & with the ingredients on low heat, add palm sugar/brown sugar and mix. Leave it for 30 min with the lid. When they have gone tender (Checklah...not too soft), let it cool. Serve them chilled ; P

*It can stay fresh up to one week, when refrigerated.

Do you know that the chemical compounds found in pumpkin promote regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells? Resulting in increased bloodstream insulin levels. According to the research, pumpkin extract may be "a very good product for pre-diabetic people, as well as those who already have diabetes," possibly reducing or eliminating the need for insulin injections for some type of diabetics.

Labu in Malay could also suggest the calves’ size of a person, besides the normal term "Betis". No wonder John John & Faris sped ahead like a torpedo - Both of them have muscular "Labu's".
In the northern parts of Malaysia, a person's calves can also be referred as "Anak Anjing/Puppy". An old term which is rarely used nowadays.

Uncanny resemblance?

Other Labu meaning,
1) Labu sayong, a pottery craft.
2) My mom would say "Azman, skin a "Labu/Bulb" off garlic". Se-labu bawang putih = A large "Bulb" of garlic (Notice the garlic & the pottery? Uncanny resemblance to the pumpkin eh?)
3) Anatomical wise - His/her belly looks like an overgrown "Labu" or she has a nice pair of "Labu/Jugs". He he he...

Dr. Hassan & Faris

Dr. Taufik & Awie jelingan manja...aww!

Other than some history lessons & recipe to make your saliva trickle, it was a fun & fast ride with some new friends. Dr. Hassan, Faris, Dr. Taufik & Awie the firefighter. Kudos to Bokat & Bulat, u guys have improved tremendously. Syabas!!!

To Syarul Hulk, that's a fancy "PANAURELLO". Bro, with or without "Panau"/Tinea Versicolor or Pityriasis Versicolor (a condition characterized by a rash on the trunk and proximal extremities), you're still the same.
Two doctors will tell you the benefit of exercise & good eating habits. John John can tell a tale or two about nutritions.

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits for the mad cyclist.
The orange-flesh is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is a source of beta carotene which is a powerful antioxidant. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, vision, bone development and many other functions.
Just look at me, I'm pushing 45 but with the helmet, jersey, tanned skin & slim physique, I'm a dead give away 25 year horny dude!!! Vain vain vain...
Pumpkin is also a tasty source of carbohydrates and potassium.

Nutrition Facts (1 cup cooked mashed pumpkin)
Calories 24
Protein 1 gram
Carbohydrates 5.98 grams
Dietary Fiber 1 gram

Potassium 280.6 mg
Phosphorus 36.6 mg
Vitamin A 1320 IU
Vitamin C 5.73 mg

No wonder Dr. Hassan had some mashed pumpkin in Salak town.

Last but not least, The Clan would like to wish Dr. Hassan - "Happy 49th. Birthday". Thank you for "Belanjaying/threating" RM50.
49-50 = 4950, Wah! can strike 4D, sure kena one...

Njoy Ridin' & Gobblin'!


Taufik said...

I really enjoyed the ride. To all of you guys, my thanks for the great company. I look forward to the next ride.

Anonymous said...

Bro, need to rate this route
X18+....even the fancy "PANAURELLO" is drown in the pumpkin soup!

I can't imagine Arief Zain going along..and his dad narrating..

go hitch another fruit dude!


Man CIOCC said...

Welcome to my pleasure dome...

Enche Bon said...

Huhuhu... Dah lama sangat tak ride together with the CiOCC Clan nih...

NIZAM(trexia) said...

salam brother man....
Ada no hp Dr Hassan tak...itu hari dia ada ambik no hp saya...masa jumpa dia kat kedai keri...lupa lak nak mintak no dia...dia ambik no hp saya pun sebab nak ajak kayuh..sebab dia cakap dia selalu nampak saya kayuh sorang2...kalau adalah no dia klau takda takpa...

sulekha said...

fuh...tat was enuf pumpkin history for 1 day ;)